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Glasgow Art Club, 1 December 2011

What we got from Secret Architecture on Thursday night was, in some ways, a showcase of developments in the American tenor sax, piano and rhythm quartet since the early 60s. At times what we heard was reminiscent of fairly mainstream post-bop, but there were also definite hints of Coltrane, the sort of free jazz associated with players like David S Ware, and in some of the more rambunctious bluesy moments, the George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet. These elements were all convincingly blended together, though: there was never any sense of merely copying what an earlier generation of musicians had done.

Typical of the band’s versatility and ability to instantaneously change from one mood or tempo to another was the first number of the second set. It started off with a series of dissonant, almost fanfare like figures, then switched to a high-speed post-bop tenor workout, which was followed by a calmer, impressionistic piano solo, and ended up with a closing section which brought all three of these elements together.

The four band members – co-leaders Fraser Campbell on tenor and Zach Mangan on drums, plus pianist Wade Ridenhour and bassist Julian Smith – were all excellent, but it was the way Secret Architecture worked together as a group which most impressed. Their weekly spot at New York’s Caffe Vivaldi has obviously paid off: they’ve reached the point where they seem able to improvise as a unit, rather than just having one player solo while the others back him.

An excellent gig overall, and it was nice to be back in Glasgow Art Club, which as well as having a nice atmosphere has a very good piano. And while it wasn’t sold out, it was pretty well attended.